“We will be happy to help you as soon as you’re done with your call” –sign at The Black Sheep Deli, Amherst, MA
On Monday, I took my mini-van to Firestone to have the broken housing on my rear-door taillight replaced. This broken housing was one of three reasons my car failed inspection. Now it is all behind us and we can travel together again, my mini-van and I. Actually, we are not legal until we get re-inspected, but the Amherst cops are pretty chill and would probably give me a warning for starters. Technically, I have two months to get re-inspected, but I have the red capital “R” sticker which basically means: YOUR CAR IS GOING TO IMPLODE. Last year, my car failed inspection, too, but it was failure of a milder variety—maybe the sticker was a different letter and color?
The previous week, I also spent an hour at Firestone, having a brake light repaired and getting two new tires put on in the front. The waiting room of the Firestone in Northampton, MA doesn’t really have any interesting magazines if you ask me–it’s all cars, sports, and business, and those aren’t really very sexy topics, are they? There was a copy of Latina magazine and it was pretty engaging, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice.
For Monday’s appointment, I decided to splurge and buy A WHOLE BUNCH of magazines before my car repair—whatever I wanted. I got Cape Cod Life for things to do on the Cape, of course; People, for the trash; Country Living because certainly, though I am in my upper 40s, I will have my dream house and dream kitchen soon; The Wall Street Journal, for the human interest story on the front page and to jeer, mentally, at the letters to the editor.
As I was settling into my comfy couch seat, learning about a descendant of some of the first European settlers on the Cape, I was shocked to hear my waiting-room mate’s intercom-level voice as she blared it into her cell phone. I now know much more about Rebecca than I would like. I know her last name (starts with an “S”). I know her son’s name (starts with a “J”). I know that there was a school committee meeting that night. I know that she had to cancel two daytime appointments. I know that she could not attend the school committee meeting as planned.
She made at least three calls out and received one, though I tried hard to avoid knowing even this much about her goings-on. In a different frame of mind, I might have asked her to go outside or at least to lower her voice, but I refrained. Though it was hard to concentrate on the article about Martha’s Vineyard’s idiosyncratically evolved sign language, I had bought the magazines to engage myself, and I did my best to ignore her.
My experience of cell phones, of late, is that the demographic with the rudest behavior is exhibited by the over-50 set. I think them young’uns are all texting, so there’s no volume, just an apparent disregard for personal safety when crossing the street and a complete lack of knowledge of the fine points of verbal, face-to-face conversation. What I consider appropriate behavior while dining has also fallen by the wayside, with texting being an apparently acceptable form of dinner conversation between parties of two or more.
Last summer, I went to see a movie in the local art-house cinema and, lo and behold, the 60-something woman next to me flipped open her goddamn Blackberry DURING THE MOVIE! I’m kind of thick and slow, but I’m starting to get it. The over 50-set, dinosaurs though they may be, have something in common with the rabble-rousing teens—technology, by gum, and they will shove it in your face so you know that they are important, savvy, and relevant.
I know, Rebecca S, that you and your schedule and your friends and your son and your clients and your car repair and your general fucking life are really important. But next time, so help me God, I will ask you to take it outside.
Read Full Post »